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Good With Seafood - Bodegas Fariña Malvasia, 2007, Toro, Spain (2)
Vino Vangelist wrote: When you get the right wine to complement a sea food di... [read more]

Mondavi Woodbridge Shiraz, 2006, California (5)
1WineDude wrote: I did indeed use your musings as a guest post - thanks ... [read more]

Port and Chocolate - Cockburn's LBV and Chocolate Bavarois (4)
David Bennett wrote: look 'ere you young whippersnapper. 20,000 years of mat... [read more]

Tariquet L'Apéritif (3)
Dan Coward wrote: Love the label! It actually gives me an inkling of what... [read more]

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Mondavi Woodbridge Shiraz, 2006, California

Mondavi Woodbridge Shiraz 2006
As I write I'm sipping a glass of Californian red - a Robert Mondavi Woodbridge Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 to be precise.

It's fairly typical of the type of Californian wine readily available in the UK. Following the WineDudes request for some foreign thoughts on Californian wine the Woodbridge is 'research'. Not sure if the Wine Dude is going to utilise my barely coherant scribbles in a post or (update - he has) not but the crux of the article was that, while we can get hold of American wines in the UK most are the large brands (such as Gallo and this Mondavi) and the small quantities of boutique wines that many American wine bloggers rave about are never seen over here.

I hesitate to mention the ubiquitous Gallo in the same paragraph as Mondavi for both the Cabernet and this similar but slightly spicier Shiraz are very drinkable examples which offer more than a modicum of interest, something those massed Gallo brands never will.

Red Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Robert Mondavi Woodbridge Shiraz, 2006, California
Stockists: Threshers and most supermarkets Price: £7.20 [More on Adegga / Snooth]
Very similar in style to the Cabernet - sweetish full fruit, soft but evident tannins combine to make a highly drinkable fruity style of red. Broad flavours enveloping the blueberry/blackberry spectrum, not complicated but enhanced by some varietal spice. Not sure where Jancis Robinson gets the "very pinched and ungenerous" idea from as the wine appears fleshy, broad, lightly spiced and very drinkable. Alcohol 135%.

Aiming for a modicum of seasonal eating a dish of acorn squash with a tomato and cream minced lamb stuffing was paired with this red, the sweetness of the fruit playing nicely with the inherant sweetness of the squash and the stuffing. The softness held enough in the acidity and tannin stakes to counter the creamy richness.

Scribblings Rating - 88/100 [3.5 out of 5]

Good With Seafood - Bodegas Fariña Malvasia, 2007, Toro, Spain

Bodegas Farina Malvasia 2007, Toro, Spain
A recurring event - a wine that ranks as 'just fine' by itself is raised in ones estimation when coupled with food. This nicely weighty white from Spain is another such example where a succesful match brings added pleasure to a meal.

White Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Bodegas Fariña Malvasia, 2007, Toro, Spain.
Stockist: dunno [More: Adegga / Snooth]

A light simple nose - a touch of herbs, a smidge of yeast and a layer of lemon. More activity on the palate though with a gentle lemony start giving way to a sherbet, grapefruity palate and a tang of acidity. Pleasant enough and very drinkable but seldom is Malvasia ever going to knock yer socks into a cocked-hat (or something). Unoaked. Alcohol 12.5%.

Its clean, fresh crispness was a joy though with some crispy Calamari rings dunked in mayonnaise. While the squid wasn't the best - it was frozen rather than fresh and certainly not as good as the mammoth sized rings myself and Douglas devoured with passion at a local Italian last week - but the wine worked wonders. When they say 'good with seafood' this partnership is what they have in mind.

Scribblings Rating - 90/100 [3.75 out of 5]

By way of proving that I don't just make these food and wine matches up, a picture of the very same calamari. And yes, they were cold by the time I had finished taking pictures!


A Not Too Sweet Dessert Wine - Farina Val de Reyas 2005

Farina Val de Reyas 2005Designed as an aperitif the Farina Val de Reyes Vino Semi-Dulce is recommended with foie gras, pates and soft cheeses. Back in May of 2007 a bottle (of the previous vintage, 2004) was matched with delicious results with a Melon, Pecorino and Culatello Anti-Pasti.

A requirement for a wine to accompany Little Windfall Apple Tarts resulted in this being opened as a proper dessert wine.

Dessert  Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Fariña Val de Reyes, 2005, Castilla y Leon, Spain
[More: Adegga / Snooth]

The Botrytis effected Moscatel is really evident on the aroma with hints of orange, honey, pear and a heady honeysuckle edge. Is it the botrytis that gives that nice weight to the palate in addition to the sweetness? A good long spicy finish is clean and fresh from the citric acidity. Behind that spice is there a dimension not too dissimilar to that of autumn - well-kept apples, damp leaves, wild mushrooms and all? Alcohol 13%.

It is not a rich, sickly dessert wine being more fresh and lively than many. With the Little Windfall Apple Tarts it was rather scrummy with a lemon dimension matching the tarts lemon curd. With desserts you need the wine to be sweeter than the food; this match worked perfectly.

Scribblings Rating - 90/100 [3.75 out of 5]

Little  Apple Tarts - a great match with Farina Val De Reyes 2005

Port and Chocolate - Cockburn's LBV and Chocolate Bavarois

Cockburn's LBV 2003 Port
Do you do anything with port other than drink it or serve it with stilton?

I'm not a great fan, by the way, of port with cheese, especially stilton. Two strong totally strong flavours that clash. Just because it is 'tradition' doesn't make it right! I'm out on my own I think. A quick twitter poll resulted in an almost universal condemnation for my heretical views.

Although the wine mutineer agreed

"Nope, I've tried it, and in my humble opinion, the complexity of the port combats the cheese, I like a desert Riesling or Sauternes instead"

Chocolate is the way to go when matching food with port; especially the Late Bottled Vintage version. I've just enjoyed a rather scrummy Chocolate Bavarois (made 'em myself, he says with a triumphant gloat) with a generous glass of Cockburns LBV - pure bliss. You have to be generous with the drink serving, none of your namby-pamby little glasses, splash a generous measure into a wine glass.

Port Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Cockburn's Late Bottled Vintage (LBV) Port , 2003, Portugal
Stockist: Asda and Morrisons 10.69 [More on UKWOL] Price: £9.99 [More on Adegga / Snooth]

Distinct chocolate notes in the wine are mingled with a deep richness and mellow complex fruits. Mulberry is often noted but to me is more sweet raisins with a little plum and sweet strawberry thrown in. A nice sweetness tempered by the tannins and a creamy mouthfeel.

Scribblings Rating - 90/100 [3.75 out of 5]

A full recipe and instructions for Chocolate Bavarois is available on SpittoonExtra.

Tariquet L'Apéritif

Tariquet l'Aperitif
Is your pre-dinner tipple a G&T or are you a true Francophile and indulge in a little pré-dîner Pineau de Cherentes, a true apéritif?

Personally a slurp or two of the wine to be served with the meal is the standard pre-dinner drink with me, having never really taken to the sweeter styles of French aperitifs. While this newly released Tariquet L'Apéritif falls into that category it is rather captivating. Highly drinkable too, but watch that 17% alcohol!

The word aperitif comes from the Latin 'aperire' which means 'to open'. Meaning, in this case, to 'open' the appetite; a way to prepare the gastric juices for what is to come.

Domaine du Tariquet, well known for its Vin de Pays de Côtes de Gascogne wines and Bas-Armagnac has created its own aperitif made from a subtle blend of Armagnac and grape juice.

A clever blend of pure Folle Blanche eau-de-vie and grape juice gives an intense bouquet of ripe fruits, cherry stalks and white blossom. It is full and lively in the mouth with a good balance between the freshness and sweetness of ripe grapes."

Certain grape varieties such as the Gros Manseng, Chardonnay and Sauvignon give very concentrated grape juices when they are truly ripe and it is among these that Tariquet selects those that have the most fruity aromas at the beginning of their fermentation. The transformation of sugar into alcohol having just started, is then stopped by blending with a Folle Blanche eau-de-vie, chosen for its finesse and floral notes to form the off-dry Tariquet L'Aperitif.

Spirit Review/Tasting NoteSpirit Tasting Note: Tariquet L'Apéritif , Vin de Liqueur, France
Stockist: AdVintage Wines Price: £12.99 [More on Adegga / Snooth]
A delightful aroma - honeyed, floral, waxy, lemony. Intense flavours mimic the aroma with a good concentration and intensity.The acidity comes in a huge citric wave clearing the sweetness and leaving a lemony, honeyed aftertaste. Although designed as an apéritif this would be a great accompaniment to fois gras. Alcohol 17%.

Scribblings Rating - 92/100 [4 out of 5]

Short films on French and Hungarian Vineyards and Wineries

Wilson Daniels films on French vineyards
A Napa Valley-based filmmaker has turned his camera on several French and Hungarian vineyards and wineries to create a series of short films.

Individual films will premiere online in October and November 2008. The first, featuring Royal Tokaji, is already available. All films will be available for download to iPods, as well as web-based viewing at Wilson Daniels Films, and on Facebook and YouTube.

"Each mini-documentary explores the history, setting, and distinct personality of the properties through thought-provoking images and interviews with winery principals. Lyman's signature style--saturated colors, lush cinematography and striking music--make a breathtaking background for the three- to five-minute films, filmed exclusively in high-definition. Lyman also captures the small details of each estate, from candle-lit cellars in real light to the ancient lock on a cellar door, providing viewers with a sense of intimacy with each locale."

The series will cover Royal Tokaji of Tokaj; Champagne Delamotte and Champagne Salon; three domaines in Bugundy (Faiveley, Leflaive and Pierre Morey); Domaine Philippe & Vincent Jaboulet of northern Rhône; and Domaine Marc Kreydenweiss of Alsace and southern Rhône.

Brief Notes from the Top 100 Vins de Pays 2008

2008 Top 100 Vin de Pays Wines
Brief notes scribbled at the London International Wine and Spirits Fair in Excel of the Top 100 Vins de Pays 2008.

Of the 1,214 samples submitted to the competition tasting there were 520 red wines, 518 white and 176 rosé. Of these wines 14 trophies were awarded to six white wines, one rosé and seven reds.

"So how did the Top 100 pan out this year? As you'd expect, Vin de Pays d'Oc had the largest number in the winners' enclosure, with exactly half the wines selected - although statistically speaking, Vin de Pays des Côtes de Gascogne had a better hit rate (15 wines out of 95 entries). "
"The judges were impressed by the diversity and overall quality of the top 100, and most were surprised by what the much criticised 2007 vintage had produced. Most of them singled out rosés as the area of greatest improvement. The Merlots were also a lot better than last year, although several judges felt it was the red blends that really stood out."

From my tasting of the top 100 (not all of the 100 were tried, I should mention) it was the red blends that stood out for me. Stockist information and links are included but most wines are now out of stock; you might be able to secure stocks of follow on vintages.

White Wines

White Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Domaine de la Coche, 2007, VdP du Val de Loire
[More: Adegga / Snooth]
Winner Sauvignon Blanc Trophy. 100% Sauvignon Blanc grown in Retz south of Nantes. 12% Alcohol. Grassy, green aromas. Very pure, gravelly, palate complex hints of orange. Alcohol 12%.

White Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Rive Haute Sauvignon, 2007, VdP des Côtes de Gascogne
Stockist: Adnams Price: £8.49 [More: Adegga / Snooth]
£8.49 Adnams. Rounder than the previous (south, warmer climes) good, long length. Alcohol 11.5%.

White Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: M&S Grenache Blanc, 2007, VdP d'Oc
Stockist: Marks and Spencer Price: £5.49 [More: Adegga / Snooth]
Grenache Blanc Trophy and Best Wine of Show
Grenache Blanc grown around Carcassonne. Delicious stone-led palate, zesty, lemony, floral hints. A little oak aging adding complexity. 12.5% Alcohol.

White Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Domaine le Roc Anges Les Vieilles Vignes, 2006, VdP des Pyrénées-Orientales
Stockist: Les Caves de Pyréne Price: £11.85 [More: Adegga / Snooth]
A blend of Grenache Gris (80%) and Macabeu (20%). Crisp, toasty flavours, orange and lime rind. Excellent length. Alcohol 14%.

White Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Vignoble Guillaume Chardonnay Collection Réservée, 2004, VdP de Franche-Comté.
[More: Adegga / Snooth]
Chardonnay Trophy Winner. Chardonnay from 28 year-old vines. Honeyed, buttery, peachy palate. Unfiltered. Alcohol 13%.

White Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Domaine L'Hortus Grande Cuvée Blanc, 2006, VdP du Val de Montferrand
Stockist: Les Caves de Pyréne Price: £12.40 [More: Adegga / Snooth]
A mix of Chardonnay (80%), Viognier (15%) and Roussanne (5%). Crisp but rounded, full of flavour and great length. Alcohol 13.5%.

White Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Producteurs Vignoble de Gascogne Fleur de Givre Florenbelle, 2007, VdP des Côtes de Gascogne
Stockist: Waitrose Price: £7.99 [More: Adegga / Snooth]. - Gros Manseng Trophy Winner
£6.99 Late harvested. Lingering, cleanly fresh, exotic was one word overheard as a description. Alcohol 11.5%.

Red Wines

Red Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Domaine Py Merlot, 2007, VdP d'Oc
Price: £5.49 [More on Adegga / Snooth]
- Merlot Trophy Winner
From a 32ha at the foot of Mont Alaric in the Corbières region. Deeply coloured with a open, straw and blackcurrant and leaves led nose, creamy, rounded, good structure, good price.

Red Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Domaine Paul Mas La Forge Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, 2007, VdP d'Oc
Price: £7.49 [More on Adegga / Snooth]
- Cabernet Sauvignon Trophy Winner
Heavy weight bottle, full, rich, lashings of raspberry and blueberry. Great length. Alcohol 13.5%.

Red Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Camplazens Syrah, 2007, VdP d'Oc
Stockist: Majestic Price: £6.49 [More on Adegga / Snooth] - Syrah Trophy Winner
Deep, deep, colour, wonderful bacon edge aroma, violets and similar on a gorgeous palate. Plenty of cassis laced with inky fruit. Super. Alcohol 13%.

Red Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Domaine Familongue, Le Carignan de Familongue, 2007, VdP du Mont
Price: £5.99 [More on Adegga / Snooth] - Carignan Trophy Winner
Excellent packaging. 100% Carignan from 50-60 year old vines. Juicy. Not as heavy as the colour would suggest, deeply flavoured.

Red Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Camplazens Marselan, 2007, VdP d'Oc
Stockist: Majestic Price: £6.49 [More on Adegga / Snooth]
£6.49 Majestic. Very deeply coloured, nice lifted aromas and a rather tasty, curranty, palate.

Red Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Domaine de La Jasse Vieilles Vignes, 2006, VdP d'Oc
Stockist: ay and Wheeler Price: £9.95 [More on Adegga / Snooth]
Red brick in colour but a lovely balanced palate and lingering flavours.

Red Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Domaine Phillippe Nusswitz Miratus, 2005, VdP d'Oc
[More on Adegga / Snooth] - Best Red Wine of Show
Striking packaging. Blend of Syrah (60%), Grenache (20%) and Mourvèdre (20%) vines are grown in the foothills of the Cevennes between the Languedoc and the Rhône. Wonderful nose, gorgeous palate, complex but not heavy. Sadly no details of stockists or price.